They only thing reasonable. Cry out for help to the other side of the Atlantic and hope for the best. This is what Werner Koch had to do.
Werner who wrote in 1997 the free the software, known the as Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG) and still singlehandedly maintains it by issuing regularly patches and updates. He did and still does all of this from his home in Erkrath, Germany. GPC used by whistleblower Edward Snowden and is at the heart of email encryption programs all over the globe.
After repeatedly being unable get enough funds to pay himself, he has made around 22.000€ a year since 2001 — well below Germany’s mean salary — and to fulfill the dream of hiring a full-time programmer, he was in the verge of quitting, but he decided to stick after he realized the instrumental role his software played in Edward Snowden exposing the NSA.
But this time he did differently, didn’t try to get help or coverage from German or Europeans Institutions or Press; but turned to the other side of the Atlantic, the U.S.
The outcome couldn’t had been more different from his earlier efforts. He was awarded a one-time grant of $60,000 from Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative. Since his story made the U.S. Press, through ProPublica, Werner donation page saw unprecedented activity and he easily reached his funding goal of $137,000. Moreover, Facebook and Stripe, the payment processor, each pledged to give $50,000 a year to Koch’s project.
Form a macro perspective, the question left on the table is what brings better outcome, The Big Hand of big Government or the Lasse Faire of lesser government intervention?
It would not be afar from reality to affirm that most bureaucrats and politicians, at least in the European Union, seem to love talking to the press about the importance world digital economy for Europe’s Economy, but swiftly forget doing anything that would make a real difference. One could say that they seem unable agree, plan and enact any policy that won’t have the potential of grabbing big Media Headlines for them. An in any case they don’t seem to actually be thinking through much about if actually any of these policies makes any strategic or tactic sense.
Such a claim comes not only from the micro reality of what Werner had to endure, but by a further analysis of where they put our resources, their time and effort to find out their real goals. This way, we can get a glimpse of where the Big Hand of European Government put its efforts and not just their mouth.
We may look at what they seem to love the most, “Witch-hunting”, where they devote enormous amounts of resources to harass Google and Apple as once they relentlessly did with Microsoft. One might wonder why, they already know that they won’t prosper, as it didn’t against then all mighty Microsoft. These Companies are very careful avoiding using any unfairly practice in light of their dominant position. Then why waste those resources and time, it is an easy way to make Big Fat Headlines in the Int. Press.
Now, it’s fashionable to crack the cross-border transfer pricing, so in Europe are devoting enormous resources to try to enact cross-border fiscal legislation just to levy higher taxes on large corporations doing business at pan-european level. But the real problem is just dodged, the need to have a coördinated fiscal policy is a necessary complement fo the monetary union to work. Why? Another easy way to make populist Headlines. And a way to avoid tackling the problematic but necessary issue of asking citizens further surrender to the Union part of their national sovereignty.
Devoting resources to projects that are worthwhile in real digital economy don’t get them the Big Fat Headlines. So their best efforts (very little, I guess) have devised a system to let them to starve to death or if they ask for help, serve them enough red tape so they can hang themselves from it.